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We are a programming shop, but this is not a programming question.

My boss has put an external HD on the network. It contains the 'home' folders for users on the network. He uses it to place VB projects that he wants me to work on.

But no matter what date and time he places a project on the drive, the file dates (modified) always shows the current date, though nothing in the files have changed. It makes it very hard to confirm that he has given me the latest versions. (He is not a fan of version control and nothing I do will convince him different.)

Any ideas why this happens and how to prevent it from happening?

P.S. As I wrote this I decided to add the last accessed date to the file display, and those dates happen to show the dates I expect to see. Why is the modified date getting changed, but not the accessed date. Does the accessed date change only when the files are opened or read, changed or not?

Note: I use Directory Opus 9, a replacement for windows file browser.

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I would suggest that not having some sort of source control is probably a bigger issue –  thepaulpage Jan 20 '10 at 22:10
    
I second this... Not sure how a programming group can work without one. But... there may be a setting in the external disk software (if this is present) that allows you to change this. –  nicorellius Apr 9 '10 at 17:47
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6 Answers

First of all, if you are a 'programming shop', you should most definitely have version control. I mean, come on.

Anyway, to try to debug this issue, when you modify the file, does the accessed date change?

You need to test your problem on the default Windows Explorer first. Does the problem happen there? If so, yep you have an issue that needs addressed. If not, it's a problem with 'Directory Opus 9', which honestly I've never heard of so I couldn't help there.

Let us know.

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you have never heard of Directory Opus? "I mean, come on." :) almost the best file management software (if it weren't for Total Commander :) –  Molly7244 Jan 20 '10 at 21:53
    
Touche! I've never felt the need for a replacement, but I'm sure once I checked it out I'd never look back. –  th3dude Jan 20 '10 at 22:03
    
No doubt. I've never looked back. Version Control? My boss has never had more than one programmer working for him, and no matter how I plead and coerce he will not budge. I've gone so far as to purchased my own VisualSVN client for my IDE, and installed VisualSVN server(standard), hoping I can show him by example, but he still will not use it. I've bought a 5 user version of OnTime Project Management by Axosoft, and he still prefers to write specs out on a legal pad. I use the tools, but only the things I work on are tracked. I total agree with the 'come on' bit. But it is out of my control. –  Marshall Jan 20 '10 at 22:37
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First I agree with th3dude19 - check whether or not it's happening in regular Explorer as your first step.

If it's still being modified, then if you have Anti-virus it may be re-dating (modified date) the files as it scans them (during the move to the new drive).

This isn't usual, but I've run into it (in that case it was causing an automatic off-site backup to resend files that hadn't changed in any other way).

So try disabling your AV and see if the date sticks as expected.

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That's a thought. I will talk to my boss and see if his AV scans during copy. In the regular explorer I'm getting the same dates. –  Marshall Jan 20 '10 at 22:46
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If the boss makes it your problem, then make it YOUR solution!

FIRST OFF: Get _for_free_ Perforce, the code management system. You can get a two person license for nothing...

Now, on to your asked question:

Run sha1sum over the files. It'll give you a 40 character number (in hexadecimal) that is nearly guaranteed to be unique from ANY other input. When combined with size in bytes, the odds of two files having the same hash value (sha1sum is a hash generating program) but containing different content "approaches zero." You can trust it because, after all, this is it's intended purpose! Sha1sum is how linux people (and other smart groups) verify distribution of media has not been tampered with. A single bit change will change the number dramatically!

So, you can just compare the sha1sum values. Use a script to automate it...

RT

P.S. Using sha1sum (or similar,like MD5) is the way to go and is vastly better than going by dates because dates can maliciously be manipulated, but sha1sum will give you the same answer no matter the file system attributes. RT

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I'm already using SVN. I am a fan of the simpler Source Safe. I'll check this out, but it will have to be exceptional before I'll switch now. –  Marshall Jan 21 '10 at 19:56
    
Marshall, learning about the tools I pointed you at (sha1sum and MD5) is VERY well worth your time. I assure you either is far superior to trusting timestamps. And, they have other uses. –  Richard T Jan 24 '10 at 4:55
    
Perforce is spectacularly not free once you go past two users - not a good suggestion (-: SVN is great, source safe is not simpler (nor is it a good idea, TFS is a whole different thing though) and in any case if I were starting now I'd probably want a DVCS –  Murph Jul 26 '10 at 17:32
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Directory Opus has options that specifically cover this. On its menu: Settings > Preferences > File Operations > Copying Files > Preserve the timestamps of copied files. Check that one and the others in that section.

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In addition to the other suggestions, I would ask how your boss is copying the files to the external drive. Is he putting new files there via a manual file copy, or is he running any folder sync tools to keep the external drive up to date? If he is using any additional tools (such as Sync Toy) to do this, that may be the reason for updated date/time stamps.

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Process Monitor can indicate unwanted modifications to files.

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